OTB in Onondaga County proposed once again
Could off-track betting finally be brought into Onondaga County? The proposal will be brought in front of a legislative committee this week. Though the idea has failed in the past, one supporter tells our Karen Lee why she thinks it will succeed this time around.
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LIVERPOOL, N.Y. -- Off-track betting in Onondaga County was explored in the seventies and then again about five years ago. Both times it failed. It's being proposed once again this week and supporters say they're optimistic since we're living in a different time and a different economy.
"Our backs are to the wall and I feel we have an obligation as a legislature to find every revenue source we can, other than raising property taxes yet again," said Kathleen Rapp, an Onondaga County Legislator.
Most neighboring counties have OTB sites and Rapp says about 20 million bets come from people who live in Onondaga County.
The New York City OTB is currently on the brink of bankruptcy and the ripple effect could reach all the way upstate, specifically the Saratoga races. But Rapp says Capital OTB, based out of Schenectady, has been doing well thanks to innovative features like internet betting and the tele-theater.
Rapp also wants to go with Capital because revenue is shared by population and Onondaga would be the largest county within their district. They're projecting a million dollar revenue.
"My sense is it's a million dollars we don't have now and how many people can I keep employed with an extra million dollars in the budget. How many art organizations will get funded because maybe we have extra money that we wouldn't have had?" said Rapp.
She shrugs off criticism about promoting gambling.
"The horse is out of the barn on that one. Anybody who has a weakness for gambling has ample opportunity. So meanwhile there's all this revenue that we could be realizing that we are just not taking advantage of."
Rapp and three other Onondaga County legislatures will present their proposal in front of the Ways and Means committee on Tuesday.